A Course That Straddles Engineering And Management

If you are an early or mid-career IT professional looking to know more about product management or someone toying with the idea of a start-up, here’s a thoughtfully curated postgraduate degree program for you!  

A product or solution that ticks the right boxes for a market requires a delicate balance of architectural as well as product vision. When product managers lay out product roadmaps with little understanding of technical specifications or engineers build solutions with zero pulse of the customer in mind, the situation is far from optimal. While companies have focused on clear communication between the two streams, an academic solution that marries them is now available thanks to a novel post-graduate offering by the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad.

Targeting Different Sections
The institute has announced a new 2-year MTech program in Product Design and Management (PDM) that is partly supported by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India. With a limited intake of 30 students, the program awards monthly stipend to accepted full-time students to cover living expenses. “When we first envisioned a new course, we wanted one that would create not just engineers but “market aware technologists” who are both design savvy and customer-aware,” says Prof. Raghu Reddy, Head of the Software Engineering Research Centre. With that aim, the curriculum covers design thinking, business and finance fundamentals, product development and go to market strategies. According to Ramesh Loganathan, Professor Co-Innovation, who heads research and innovation outreach, the course is relevant for three categories of students – fresh graduates or early career IT professionals, mid-level techies and the startups. “For early career professionals, it helps groom them to become technology product managers. For mid-level folks, it is relevant for those who want to grow as leaders in a product company or even those who want to mentor and help startups. And finally, by enabling the creation of new products, it will be beneficial for those keen on starting up,” he says.

Diverse Faculty
Courses on business, finance, organizational operations, technology product entrepreneurship, User Research Methods (Customer discovery) will be taught by academicians, entrepreneurs as well as investors. Some of the courses will be facilitated by mentors and incubation experts from Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), one of the largest academic incubators in India, housed on IIITH campus. Since new age tech, especially ICT products such as immersive AR and VR devices depend on the interactions of AI with humans, some of the courses on cognitive computing, human computer interaction (HCI) and others will be coordinated by faculty from the Cognitive Science laboratory. With the course focusing on ICT-technology oriented product design and management, all applicants are expected to possess at least a year’s experience in ICT-related product development. For those who do not possess the required background, a bridge course on Software Systems Development will be mandatory. That, and other courses such as Product Development will be run by the Software Engineering Research Centre (SERC).

Hands-On Experience
The second year sees an extended Product Development project that will provide the necessary exposure in translating product ideas into deep technology products connected with the markets. For tech professionals from industry, the project may lead to a very relevant product that can be used in government or social sectors. And for startup aspirants, the project can lead towards the first market MVP of their startup idea. All students will have the unique opportunity of creating and testing out their prototypes at the Makers Lab, a mechanical and digital facility set up with support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the NIDHI-PRAYAS program. Housing a bio-printer, 3D printers as well as a wide variety of power tools that can churn out wood, glass and acrylic-based prototypes, this extension of the Product Lab can help bring product designs to reality.

Apart from the regular qualifying exam for engineering post-graduation programs such as GATE, potential candidates can also be shortlisted based on the Common Entrance Exam for Design (CEED) that is conducted by IIT Bombay for admission into Masters and Phd programs in design across India’s premier institutes. In addition to these, there is the industry or self-sponsored channel and the startup route for those with a startup idea.